Destroyer-Streethawk: A Seduction
January 11, 2009
Streethawk: A Seduction (Misra 2001)
Before I begin, I am very sorry for disappearing for such a long vacation. Shit has hit the proverbial fan and blogs seem inconsequential. However, it stinks less than last week, so here I am.
Before he lost himself in a lyrical labyrinth of his own creation, Dan Bejar, otherwise knows as Destroyer, was one of the most witty, dense lyricists of the 90s. The cryptic lyrics and Bowie nods were plentiful, but they worked despite themselves, Streethawk: A Seduction is the first album where he really shed his indie-rock cocoon and became some wordy bastard child of Hunky Dory. Later albums became more verbose and complex, but Streethawk is the one where his knack for penning a catchy, but bizarro tune melded perfectly with a love of Bowie. Yes, subsequent efforts like This Night and Rubies pinched from different Bowie albums and were equally dense, but this one has an almost Dylan-esque ramble to it. By no means are any of Destroyer’s albums on par with the highlights of both of these legends, but Streethawk hints that Bejar could be a bizarro version if he cut the fat from his sometimes pretentious songs. However, even his most bloated songs break my fragile ticker when he aims for the bullseye and hits it perfectly.
I have always had a romantic fascination with Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, so Destroyer’s “Virgin with a Memory” always floors me with its opening line of ” Was it the movie or the making of Fitzcarraldo where someone learned to love again.” Al;though it is only an intro, it is a perfect image to conjure for a song about someone coming to grips with the weight of an actual passion. It may be overwrought to compare Herzog’s torture of sailing a riverboat up the Amazon, but somehow it is a fitting analogy for an emotionally stunted soul struggling to feel emotions that are dangerous, but electric. It is a song that celebrates youth and its infinte possibilies where all is new and raw.
Sometimes his lyrics sound better in song than when read, but they are always interesting even when it winds up as a pile of well-crafted nonsense. His discography is spotted with flaws, but somehow I keep listening to his albums because his flaws are infinitely more interesting than most musician’s successes.